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ENGL 200 Lecture 24 - Gulliver's Travels Book 1.docx

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English (Arts)
ENGL 200
Wes Folkerth

Gulliver’s Travels Book I Introduction  Jonathan Swift is the author, 1667 in Dublin, his parents are English.  His father dies before he is born, and he is raised by relatives in Ireland  He goes to a grammar school there and trinity College in Dublin, where he graduates without distinction, expending energy only on subjects that he liked like literature, and just ignoring his Philosophy courses  For the remainder of the 17 century until 1699, he works as a secretary for Sir William Temple, and he dies in 1699, and so Swift no longer has employment, and returns to Ireland where he becomes an Anglican priest  He was one of the greatest satirists in an age that was enamored by satire  One of the things that satirists try to accomplish is to try to make us see things in different ways and defamiliarize political institutions so that we can recognize our unthinking acquiescence to them and what this entails and means. This is what they often try to do: open our eyes to the world around us  His most famous works were: o The Tale of a Tube  Satire on contemporary academe o Gulliver’s Travels  Satires many things  Book 1 has a lot of satire on English political institutions  Book 4 is primarily the cult of reason that has developed in England in the 18 century – the age of the enlightenment, and to reason is to be worshiped o The Modest Proposal  An essay, open piece that he writes about overpopulation and hunger  How do you fix this problem  With a straight face, he says that we need to eat human babies  It takes care of both problems  It is a wicked satire that makes him famous  An amazing treatise on how to keep a straight face while you say weird things in a contemporary issue like this  Gulliver’s Travels was probably first envisioned as a collection work  He belonged to a club that included Pope called the Scribelour club, and his intention was to write a travel narrative that had all this satiric narrative on this  He wanted to write this without the help of the other members of the club  A travelers account of his journeys along with his evaluative account of his experience is not his invention, and these narratives go back to the classical period, therefore it is not a new genre  Thomas Mores Utopia is also a traveler’s tale where he goes to the equator and discoveries these amazing things  One of the important characteristics of GT is that it can be read with enjoyment by all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons  It is known as the great classics of children literature, and they respond to its wonderful imaginative force and its scatological humor  Other may appreciate the allegorical illustrations in the work  It’s got these allegorical components to it that people in this bent would be interested in reading  It was also a satire of the genre of travel narrative itself which was popular then  We are not far away from the world of navigation  One of the things that was notable in these accounts was that accounts of incredulity or tall tales of amazing animals that were probably fictitious, or fictitious, but turned out to be real  People enjoyed these works because they gestured towards this realisms, but at the same time, they sell because it is marvelous and amazing, and that is part of the genre  What this contemporary genre allows Swift to do is to tell the tale himself with all this similar kind of stuff and it pushes him to his limit  Lemuel Gulliver is the protagonist, and it sounds like gullible Page 2328 My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire: I was the third of five sons. He sent me to Emanuel College in Cambridge at fourteen years old, where I resided three years, and applied myself close to my studies; but the charge of maintaining me, although I had a very scanty allowance, being too great for a narrow fortune, I was bound apprentice to Mr. James Bates, an eminent surgeon in London, with whom I continued four years. My father now and then sending me small sums of money, I laid them out in learning navigation… Soon after my return from Leyden, I was recommended by my good master, Mr. Bates, to be surgeon to the Swallow, Captain Abraham Pannel, commander;  This is an image of a sense of how he sees his hero here.  He goes on to give a background of his life  We get a sense that Gulliver is a middle class person, from the middle of England, who is the middle of three sons  He is a kind of everyman figure, he is not extraordinary in any way  This gives him an amount of believability, and in a sense positions him in a sense as a person we can relate to  Swift starts to have fun with his reader, or you might be too mature to get this: o There is a lot of reference to “master bates” o There is a lot of schoolboy o An apprentice to “masturbation” Page 2329 I removed from the Old Jewry to Fetter Lane, and from thence to Wapping, hoping to get business among the sailors; but it would not turn to account. After three years expectation that things would mend, I accepted an advantageous offer from Captain William Prichard, master of the Antelope, who was making a voyage to the South Sea.  What happens a few years before, in 1720, there was a South Sea bubble, a gigantic financial crisis.  It was a speculative bubble that burst and it was a very difficult time for the English government because they had put a lot of money into this  You get the idea that this is not an auspicious voyage.  This is an element in the book that is not apparent to the people who do not live in this period; however, it was influential when it was first published.  When this was first published, it was being read by secretaries, government, and the nurseries. It was being read by the powerful and the children, giving you an example of the scope of attraction that it had for these people  The device by which Swift makes Gulliver discovers the different islands is by a series of accidents  The first one in Lilliput is a sea-wreck that causes him to make his way to this land.  By the time we get to book 4, he has a ship that mutinies, from something purely accidently to something that has a darker side to human nature  There is this kind of delineation in the mechanisms in which he finds himself in these societies  As a result of this sea wreck, he arrives in Lilliput and drinks a lot of brandy, and finds himself to shore, lies down, and falls asleep and then wakes up to find himself tied down.  The people who did this were 6 inches tall  The size of the Lilliputians corresponds to their pettiness  What they do have are analogues to what happens in British politics  They have this pettiness about them that their physical smallness embodies  They have a very small world as well  They cannot believe that there are people the size of Gulliver, and that he had to have fallen from the sky  The size of their world is Lilliput and the enemy nation island next to them  They are all consumed with that, that is the extent of their knowledge  They argue about small things as well  They argue about what size of the hardboiled egg you are supposed to break o Coincides with the catholic and protestant debates o He “boils” it down to which side of the egg you are going to crack open o These appear to be insignificant matters, and these matters make us small  This whole thing about small people and Gulliver as this huge guy in difference in scale gives us a perspective, a new way of seeing  What is this whole reformation thing about? It amounts to which side of the egg you need to open up for breakfast  They also have weird exaggerated sense of their importance too. Their important political posts are decided upon by a gymnastics competition, which not infrequently causes the death of the participants  The best person who can do tricks in the high wire – the skill has nothing to do with what is required by a person in the real political life (a difficult argument)  Swift is trying to say that there is an incomunersatibility there  The English really love miniatures  In the early renaissance, portrait paintings were miniatures,  It is small and they love it, don’t know why though  Even now, they like it – they invited Dinky Toys!  The realistic details that are in the capital city (which is small) is something that English and children really like.  This is part of the fun of the work  The touch of realism as well, can take a crude form Page 2334 I had been for some hours extremely pressed by the necessities of nature; which was no wonder, it being almost two days since I had last disburdened myself. I was under great difficulties between urgency and shame. The best expedient I could think of, was to creep into my house, which I accordingly did; and shutting the gate after me, I went as far as the length of my chain would suffer, and discharged my body of that uneasy load. But this was the only time I was ever guilty of so uncleanly an action; for which I cannot but hope the candid reader w
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